Bob’s Burgers S10E09: “All That Gene”

Episode Grade: B+

“Are you a bit much? Of course you are, and that’s great. Sometimes people can handle it, and sometimes they can’t. But sometimes it’s perfect.”

This one could’ve gone wrong fast, and the above quote suggests that the Bob’s Burgers team was very aware of this and took it as a challenge. I’m long on record as a big Gene fan, but I’ll admit I can see how he can be a bit much for some. And Linda? Linda more or less epitomizes “a bit much”. Pairing these two has resulted in at least one classic (“Gene It On”), but more often Mom and son find themselves set somewhat to the side, where their particular brands of enthusiasm have less room to wear out their welcome. Tonight’s episode ups the ante even further by relegating Bob, Louise, and Tina to an unusually minimal b-plot, with Teddy and a few select supporting players coming and  going quickly. This one was going to sink or swim on Gene and Linda.

And it swam! It’s old hat at this point for me to go on about how well Bob’s understands its characters after ten seasons, but this episode would never have worked in, say, season three. Part of the reason for this is the show’s willingness to learn from its past mistakes. The last time we saw Linda over-parent to this extent was “The Grand Mama-Pest Hotel” and, not to project too much, no one wants another one of those. Here though, Linda is allowed to go a step or two too far without veering into unlikability. At the end of the day, she’s just a mom who wants what’s best for her kid, and this time around she manages to stay on Gene’s side, where in the aforementioned episode she went so far as to be working against Tina to assuage her own insecurity.

As for Gene, tonight’s episode manages to get around his ‘a bit much’-ness by making it a plot point. Yes, Gene is loud and not much of an ensemble player. It’s what makes him who he is, and it’s why we love him. I’d be amenable to the argument that the episode leans a bit hard on the obnoxious side of him (shades of “Best Burger”, especially during the audition), but overall I’d say they didn’t go to far, which was crucial. We stay on his side, which means we stay on Linda’s side.

Aside from all that? Well, Louise and Tina poking Bob in the love handles was kind of adorable (as was the sound Bob made when poked), so it was hard not to want more of that. Teddy continues to be under-utilized this season, and I’d have hoped if they were going to bring back Kathleen they would make a bigger deal out of it (though it did feel a bit like they were laying groundwork for furthering her relationship with Teddy. Fingers crossed).

Jim Carrey’s Acclaimed Dramatic Roles

  • Storefront: In The Name Of Gloves
  • Exterminator: Dead Mouse Says What
  • Teddy introducing Gene and Linda as “Burgers” made me laugh harder than maybe it should’ve.
  • “Papa, do we work at a theater company?”
  • Alabama O’Callahan“. Heh, I gets it.
  • I felt vaguely attacked by “All we have to do is find people who have disposable cash, a bunch of free time, and nothing to live for.” Well, apart from the cash bit anyway.